The Coast of Tuscany
One of our favorite excursions during our amazing “At Home in a Tuscan Villa,” one of our new culinary vacations, is to Viareggio, home not only to one of Italy’s most famous Carnevale celebrations every year, but also to a beautiful coast, a picturesque promenade lined with Belle Epoque buildings, and a wonderful fish market.
Many people don’t realize that Tuscany has a long and beautiful coast. They think of the Chianti Classico with its amber and ochre hills and its miles of vineyards, unaware of the stunning seascapes that lie to the west. The Tuscan coast, in fact, was immortalized by one of Italy’s most famous sons, the poet Giosuè Carducci (Noble prize for literature, 1906). Carducci’s famous “Traversando la Maremma toscana” (Crossing the Tuscan Maremma) is a moving and nostalgic ode to the poet’s memories of his youth and his unrealized dreams.
But coastal Tuscany does not only mean evocative seascapes that have inspired artists and poets for many centuries. It also means food! Many think that Tuscan food is represented simply by the famed cured meats, pastas, soups, and steaks for which the region is known. Seafood in Tuscany? Yes!
Viareggio is where western Tuscans go to buy their fish, fresh off the boats that line the warf and in the fish market. Local restaurants offer specials based on the catch of the day, and you can try the famous “Cacciucco” (Livorno fish soup), a hearty stew with shellfish and a tomato-based broth, similar to a Bouillabaisse or a Cioppino. It is traditionally served with pieced of toasted bread used to soak up the broth. Or, you might try a classic “fritto misto,” an assortment of breaded and fried fish.
Of course, this is only one of the many interesting sites you will visit on our At Home in a Tuscan Villa 6-night cooking vacation in Tuscany. You visit the famed towns of Pisa, Lucca, Pietrasanta, and the “Cinque Terre” of neighboring Liguria. But Viareggio is indubitably one of the most interesting (and authentically Tuscan) of the activities you’ll experience!
By Peg Kern
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